From Alzner to Varlamov, we're taking a look at and grading the 2008-09 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2009-10. Next up, Donald Brashear.
#87 / Left Wing / Washington Capitals
Jan 07, 1972
UFA ($1,250,000 cap hit in 2008-09)
Key Stats: Brashear was one of only four players in the NHL this past season to have ten or more fights and a salary above $1 million. The other three (Jamal Mayers, Ian Laperriere and Chris Neil) each had at least ten points.
Interesting Stat: Brashear's fights per game were actually up in 2008-09 over 2007-08.
The Good: "Everyone's bodyguard" led the Caps in hits-per-minute-per-game, hitting opponents at a rate that was more than 70% higher than notable bangers Alex Ovechkin and Matt Bradley, and he was credited with more takeaways-per-minute-per-game than all but four of his teammates (Eric Fehr, Alex Semin, Tomas Fleischmann and Nicklas Backstrom) - good numbers for a fourth-line forechecker. His one goal in 2008-09 was a memorable one: a game-winner against the Isles, Karl Alzner's first NHL point, and the source of a great post-game quote. Oh, and he's on Twitter (sidenote: @BLaich21 needs to exist, like, yesterday).
The Bad: Brashear posted the second-lowest goals- and points-per-game and third-lowest assist-per-game totals of his career, all while playing in the second-fewest games in a season since he became a full-time pro. He had the second-worst plus-minus rating on the team, saw the least ice time per game of anyone who played more than three games, and had the worst +/-ON/60 at five-on-five on the team. Brash was second on the team in penalties taken per sixty minutes at five-on-five (the only guy on the team older than The Donald was first), and he took more minor penalties per game than any Cap. And while Brashear had the lowest total special teams ice time per game of any regular on the squad, he made his seven seconds of shorthanded ice time count, as he was on the ice for a goal (which gave him the worst GAON/60 at four-on-five in the League) and he drew a penalty (giving him the second-best PDraw/60 at four-on-five).
Some of these stats, of course, can be overlooked, given his role on the team, but Brashear wasn't as successful as a pugilist as he has been in the past either, winning just six of his eleven fights this season (down from seven-for-12 last season and 10-for-14 two seasons ago) and suffering a "knee injury" that would sideline him for a month in a bad loss to Wade Belak in March.
Brashear's season ended with a six-game suspension for a hit on the Rangers' Blair Betts in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals (well, five for the hit and one for pre-game shenanigans) followed by a coach's decision to play Jay Beagle for a total of ten shifts and 6:36 of ice time in two games over Brash once the latter was again eligible to play.
The Vote: Rate Brashear below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Discussion: Is there a price at which Brashear should be brought back for another season in D.C.? If so, what would it take for him to earn a 10 rating next year?